viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2018

Luego de los conversatorios de la UCA

Concluyeron los conversatorios con las fórmulas presidenciales para las elecciones 2019, foros organizados por la UCA en un formato de entrevistas públicas realizadas por académicos de dicho centro de estudios, con énfasis en sus propuestas en ejes fundamentales para el país: fortalecimiento institucional, educación, economía, seguridad pública y medio ambiente.

Tras escuchar a los diversos candidatos/as, me quedan las siguientes sensaciones sobre cada propuesta electoral.

VAMOS: Josué Alvarado & Roberto Ocampo.

Poca gente asistió al conversatorio con la fórmula de este nuevo y muy poco conocido partido, quizá con la esperanza de descubrir un tesoro escondido que por motivos mediáticos y de presupuesto había permanecido oculto, pero no hubo nada de eso. Ambos candidatos (más Alvarado que Ocampo) divagaron entre inconcreciones y diagnósticos genéricos ya conocidos, mencionando más bien al azar algunas cosas que podrían hacerse pero sin concretizar. Y en cuanto al conservadurismo moral que reina en una sociedad de doble estándar, fueron más de lo mismo.

GANA: Nayib Bukele & Félix Ulloa.

Con grandes expectativas del público hacia el líder de las “nuevas ideas”, sus intervenciones no respondieron a las preguntas planteadas, ya sea porque dedicó buena parte del tiempo a repetir contenidos ya conocidos de sus emisiones a través de Facebook Live (relacionados con las dificultades para formalizar su candidatura), o bien porque respondió con generalidades poco organizadas (esto último muy notorio también en el candidato a vice). Parece ser que, tal como han señalado todos los que no son sus fieles devotos, el plan de Nayib es Nayib y nada más. Ah, Ulloa también dijo que habría que "revisar" la Constitución, lo que deja entrever sus planes para convocar a una Asamblea Constituyente a su medida.

ARENA, PCN, PDC Y DS: Carlos Calleja & Carmen Lazo.

En sí, salvo un par de deslices verbales, Calleja no se vio mal; por el contrario, dio la cara hasta donde pudo y puntualizó sus propuestas (dentro de los límites que el formato permitía). Carmen, por su parte, dejó la sensación de mayor solidez y conocimiento técnico de los grandes temas de país; por ello, quedó una buena imagen de trabajo en equipo. El problema, no obstante, es lo que no se vio en el conversatorio pero todos conocemos: los grandes partidos políticos tradicionales que los proponen, cuyas acciones y declaraciones, no digamos de hace una o dos décadas sino recientes, hacen pensar que sus mentalidades arcaicas no han cambiado, pese a su fórmula outsider.

FMLN: Hugo Martínez & Karina Sosa.

Hugo mostró mucha seguridad en sus intervenciones: fluidas, fundamentadas, oportunas y en principio esperanzadoras; Karina, por su parte, habló poco pero sustancioso. El problema es que parecían candidatos de la oposición, pues sus propuestas siempre se vieron cuestionadas por el hecho de que su partido lleva más de nueve años en el poder, surgiendo entonces el “sí, pero ¿por qué no han hecho lo que ahora están prometiendo?” como respuesta natural. La parte decepcionante vino en la tibieza frente a temas elementales: en lo moral, ambiguos con la despenalización del aborto (ni siquiera en causal médica) y la educación sexual integral; en política internacional, no se atrevió a condenar la represión del régimen Ortega-Murillo en Nicaragua; y en lo político, no quiso aclarar si se aliarían o no con Bukele en una eventual segunda ronda electoral (“eso no se ha discutido todavía”, dijo).


¿Y entonces, por quién voto?

Definitivamente sí voy a ir votar en 2019, pues no creo que la abstención o el voto nulo ayuden en nada que pudiera ser mejorable en el país.

¿Será entonces por el “menos peor”? Pues sí, por el momento es lo que hay y de allí hay que elegir.

Por su pensamiento nebuloso y confuso en lo político y social, y dado su tinte demasiado conservador para mi gusto, no tengo ningún motivo para votar por Alvarado & Ocampo.

Por lo vacío de contenido de su campaña más allá del culto a su personalidad (por algo es conocido como “el Mesiyas”), por los siniestros personajes que lo rodean (tanto en su círculo personal como el partido que le sirve de vehículo electoral) y por su más que cuestionable capacidad administrativa, me repele completamente la idea de votar por Bukele & Ulloa.

Ahora bien, si sólo de votar por propuestas se tratara, votaría por Calleja & Lazo… pero sus partidos políticos (militantes y dirigentes) siguen siendo los mismos o pensando lo mismo que la Arena y el PCN que hemos conocido: su culto al Mayor, su negación del pasado, su sofocante ultraconservadurismo, la prepotencia renovada de ciertos militantes dizque jóvenes, etc. Y cuando pienso en todo eso, digo “mejor no”.

¿Qué queda entonces? ¿Hugo & Karina? A ver: son rostros y mentes tímidamente nuevas pese a las taras mentales de la veterana dirigencia del FMLN. Tal vez la militancia pueda dar el impulso necesario para sacar al partido de sus anclas ideológicas de los setentas, y acaso con una oposición fuerte, y una presión ciudadana intensa y constante, esta resulte ser la opción menos desesperanzadora.

¿Y si hay segunda vuelta? "Veremos, dijo el ciego..."

domingo, 11 de noviembre de 2018

Hit by a car

Had I told you about the time when I was hit by a car? I think I hadn't, so that I’ll take on that issue.

That happened in 1984 when I was part of the high school’s BKB team. We used to have training sessions every afternoon, and one day the head coach came up with the amused idea of make us jogging towards Cristo Negro Statue on Puerto de La Libertad Highway about 2 miles away and then going back to the school headquarters.

The reader must know that in El Salvador, as a third-world mentality country, safety measures have been considered like unnecessary chicken things. It was (and it still it is) common for people to walk or jog at the side or on the very border of some roads that don’t have sidewalks, without using any warning signal on their clothes (neither safety car nor motorcycle alongside). The only precaution is walking/jogging counter traffic direction, but even this elementary common sense procedure isn't always observed.

So for us, the plan sounded fun enough.

That particular afternoon was cloudy and fresh, with a light rain falling on your face outdoors, so that the road was slightly wet. We were happy and relaxed during the trip, but when we were almost reaching our goal, we must had to cross the street towards Cristo Negro Statue, watching out for moving cars.

Clearly I remember that I looked both sides and started to cross the first lane of the road, but since I saw a car approaching the next lane, I decided not to challenge my chances and stop, staying in the middle of the double-yellow line, letting the vehicle pass in order to finish crossing after.

The next ten seconds proved me wrong. Suddenly I found myself spinning throughout the air, falling out over metal sheets, bouncing several times until I finally landed on the ground and wondering what was happening to me. Then, I realized that I had been hit by a car.

Almost immediately the coach and teammates came over and checked me, asked for someone’s help and took me to the nearest hospital.

Fortunately, I didn’t get a single broken bone, my more serious injury was a wound on the scalp (I still have that 2-inches scar over my head) and curiously I never passed out, keeping conscious all the time. I don’t remember any particularly hard pain until the night fell, when all my muscles hurt while I was lying in bed.

The full recovery took about two weeks and during that time I was very worried, not by the accident but by the classes I was missing (yeah, that’s me).

Regarding the school, they covered the medical care expenses. Needless to say that, at that time, there were few laws regarding subsidiary responsibility and, certainly, there were no customary to sue institutions for negligence or allowing carrying teen students on dangerous activities. If the accident had happened today, I’m sure they would have been sued.

At the present day, I haven’t figured out how the accident could have happened. I clearly remember that I stopped where I had to. Maybe the driver thought that I was to continue crossing and, in an automatic reflection, pushed on the brake pedal causing the car got into a spin due to wet pavement or something.

I could have died but I survived.

But if I have gotten any knowledge from this experience, it'd be this: you better never go jogging on any kind of highway.

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2018

A student's significant letter

At the end of any school year, it’s customary that students write goodbye letters to his fellows and occasionally to some of their teachers, either to express their feelings (gratitude, apologies, nostalgia and so on) or made promises to keep everlasting memories about those good old days.

On this subject, I've never seemed like an emotional person to my students, even though I remember some of them with special sympathy. Nevertheless, I’ve preferred to look like Mr. Spock and keep myself away from any kind of tears-and-hugs sessions when the course is about to be over, not only due to personal reasons (skepticism mainly) but also for practical and safety reasons (children and teenagers could get confusing feelings about it). Very few former students can say they witnessed any kind of expression of affection of mine, and I plan to keep that way.

But regarding to those letters that I mentioned above, I can hardly remember five that have caused a strong (and silent) reaction on me, not because I haven’t appreciated or believed the rest of them, their words surely sincerely written and their true feelings. No, nothing farthest from truth. The thing is that those special letters contained something unique that caught me on, considering the context in which they were written.

Recently I received one of that kind, signed “anonymous” but easily recognizable by some references included. Among the not-very-neat grammar (to say the least), this sentence grabbed my spotlight:

You were the first person who believed in me.

Needless to say that I never expected something like that.

Surely that statement came up because, a few years ago, this teen person was involved in a little comedy that had to be shown to students and families. I remember how hard was to encourage her to perform, though her remarkable abilities on the stage.

Despite the fact that the sketch was very successful, she always showed reluctance to continue performing, and in some moment I thought I shouldn’t have pressed her that way (you know: as a teacher, you’re always at risk to overwhelm your students, no matter your good intentions).

But at the end of the day… that experience revealed itself (in her own words) as a breakpoint, something happily positive, memorable for her and inspiring for me to keep doing my best as a teacher.

domingo, 28 de octubre de 2018

I'm sick of "el clásico"


Every year it’s the same story when Real Madrid and Barcelona soccer teams clash: tons of pages in the papers and across the web; any kind of sports specialists talking endlessly on TV with every possible analysis, statistics and predictions; people scheduling when, where and whom to watch the game with, surrounded by a wide range of spirit beverages (without that "fuel" it wouldn’t make any sense); and trolling stupidly on social media.

And yeah… I admit I was part of it. Or should I say “I am part of it”? I’m not sure, but I’m trying to leave it behind, hard but not impossible.

As far as I remember during the seventies and early eighties, Spanish soccer league was almost completely unknown in El Salvador. The only European soccer games that we could watch on TV Channel 4 were some of German league on Sunday early mornings. Salvadoran people were concerned about local teams as Águila, FAS, Alianza, Atlético Marte and so forth, none of them transmitted by television. It was not until Mágico González (our best all-time player) was hired by Cádiz CF in 1982 that the papers began to give some faint coverage on Spanish league, but not focused on the big ones.

The evil plan started in the nineties, when papers and local TV stations began to feed us with Real Madrid and Barcelona news, slightly increasing the amount of information that didn’t matter, but that had the ability to set up people for consuming it.

Nowadays, when we have to pay for exclusive TV Spanish soccer league airings, it may sound like fiction to say that in the two-thousands we could watch the main games on local TV for free, specially the two “el clásico” yearly editions. But “there isn’t such thing as a free lunch”. Now we know: they were just doing their job… creating addiction.

And I fell out…

My first “el clásico” as a true fan experience was in 2003-2004 season. Barcelona won at Real Madrid’s home, Xavi scored the key goal with Rijkaard’s as a head coach and Ronaldinho as a rising mega-star. I must have interrupted my lunch at least ten times.

From that moment on, I anxiously followed not only every single “el clásico” edition, but the whole Barcelona’s matches (expecting wins) and almost all Real Madrid’s games (hoping loses). And the marketing knew.

Then, the machine started to reveal itself. First, they cut off free TV airings and sold the Spanish soccer league copyrights to ESPN, available only on cable (so, for the first time ever you had to pay for viewing); then, when finally you had signed for 18-month standard cable service… they sold the copyrights to SkySports, a new service you had to hire if you still wanted your drug.

Oh, but they were considerate: they allowed TDN to keep airing some anodyne La Liga weekly games, maybe one or two Barcelona or Real Madrid games a month and, showing mercy on you, the first “el clásico” match of each season. They kept giving you some sweets, in case you hadn’t decided to buy SkySports TV yet.

And finally happened what we all suspected and feared from the beginning: no more “el clásico” on TDN, you have to fall into the hands of SkySports if you want your object of desire. Their win-win game is now quite clear.

Having said the above, one could think that, at the end of the day, people have freedom to look, pursue or get what they want, and what makes them happy. Ok, but in this particular issue that so called “freedom to choose” is the expected result of the progressively and unaware mass media brainwashing.

Sadly, here in Unredempted Guanaxia (more than 5,000 miles away from any Spain city) people were killed among ridiculous arguing after some “el clasico” matches, which makes absolutely nonsense considering the null life improvement effect after every Real Madrid – Barcelona (whatever was the result), not only related to people’s basic needs, but also about mental health (fanaticism, bigotry, etc.). Also, people are blinded to the fact that Pipil fans are unimportant for those teams, to say the least.

Even though all of these rational arguments, I’m still struggling against “el clásico” addiction and I hope someday I’ll break free. I hope today would be remembered as the day I took one strong step ahead, because… guess what? While Barcelona - Real Madrid (October 28, 2018 edition) were playing, I was writing this post without seeing or hearing any broadcast… only checking occasionally the web.

By the way, Barcelona won 5-1.

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2018

When I was 14

A SORT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE

When I was 14, I was in 9th grade at Champagnat high school. At that time, that was the end of so called “third cycle on basic education” and for the next year I had to choose some kind of specialized bachillerato (that meant the cycle of middle-education consisting in 10th, 11th and 12th grade, just before college or university).

On that purpose, the school brought me and my classmates the opportunity to take a career aptitude and personality test managed by psychologists from UCA, so that we (as very immature teenagers) could make a better choice.

Since a few months before, I had been considering basically two options: academic bachillerato, focused in subjects like math and physics (wich was supposed to prepare me for further university studies), or industrial bachillerato, focused in practical duties like electricity (wich also would allow me to follow a college career later). It's not superfluous to say that this second option implied me to left the place where I was studying for ten years and to enroll in Santa Cecilia high school.

It's important to say that, at that time, career tests weren’t as usual as they are nowadays, because psychology itself were just starting to develop as a profession in our country, so the experience promised to be quite new and interesting; furthermore, I had been very confused about the big question, what should I study? As far as I can remember, I was far away from any final decision.

So, I started the tests with high expectations, hoping to find some existential answers to clarify my immediate future. After the tests and when the D-day arrived a couple of weeks later… well, the results were not exactly as I had been expected.

The psychologist brought me the definitive sheet of paper with the results… and I anxiously focused my attention on the last paragraph, the final and highly expected recommendation which was supposed to guide my confused teenage-life among the entangled paths of fate: “You are fit for any kind of bachillerato, since you have all the abilities required to succeed in any field”. And if it hadn't been enough, it was followed by this enlightning answer: “Considering your personal interests, industrial bachillerato is recommended and, as a second option, academic bachillerato.”

Ok, guys, thanks for nothing!

Nevertheless, now (more than 35 years later) that I’ve read the previous paragraphs on that very sheet, I’ve found some funny and interesting comments (maybe I’d say “diagnoses”) about me.

Regarding my character and personality, they said: “You defend your ideas and state your points of view, without conceding unless solid arguments are given, but you’re at risk on become stubborn. It’s recommended for you try to be more flexible and fight some tendency to be self-enclosed”.

Well, I can’t deny it, neither at that time nor nowadays.

But they also said: “You’re a very reflective person, patient, generally on good mood, idealist, trusted, tolerant and thoughtful”.

“Patient, generally on good mood” when I was 14…? Come on, guys! Are you sure you didn’t swap some of my tests accidentally with someone else’s?